March 25th, 2021
Reviews of this week’s CD releases
This album, which came out earlier this month, is the sophomore release of this Toronto trio — Kelly Jefferson on tenor and soprano, Artie Roth on bass and Ernesto Cervini on drums, percussion and bass clarinet — and it builds on the excellent pattern of the first one. Except for a cover of Charlie Parker’s Cheryl and the standard Blue Gardenia, all the compositions are shared among the trio members, and there is much diversity in mood and style, with the constants being energy and perhaps more harmonic exploration than the debut album.
I have also been impressed with the often cheeky sense of humour all three bring to the table. The opening track, for example, starts out as an almost goofy romp that settles into a much more complex and twisted melody. They all seem to be having a lot of fun that is infectious. After that opening track, which seems to say “Now that we’ve got your attention…”, the next track is the title tune, which offers a gentler and more serious mood. The melodies are impressive without in any way limiting the depth of the improvisation. The tune Layla Tov, meaning Good Night in Hebrew, adds a faint background of laughing children. The effect is quite haunting as Jefferson’s soprano soars above the bass foundation.
Cervini’s Billyish pushes the tempo ahead while maintaining the mood of good cheer. Flood, Deluge moves into much edgier and abstract territory with a harder-edged dynamic. The two cover tracks take the familiar, long-standing tunes neatly into 2021, with the bass clarinet adding to the arrangements.
Like everyone in the music business during a pandemic, jazz folks have been struggling to keep above water with releases that mitigate some of the restricted movements that impact them and their ability to tour and record. This album is a fine example of success in that endeavour. Support of creative musicians is critical to the jazz world. ★★★★ out of five
STREAM THESE: Entering Utopia, Layla Tov